Why good programmer never write good programs

21 בנובמבר 2007

4 תגובות

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Here, one of visitors, begun a discussion about good and bad programmers. Here, I wrote about absolutely unnecessary and not relevant questions to good programmers. Someone things, that good programmers should write good programs. However, I want to interpose my objections to the statement. And this why.


Let's start with the term "good programmer". What is it?

  • He knows any, even small details of programming language
  • He knows to write very efficient algorithms
  • He always in new technologies and applies them in his everyday work
  • He is extremely innovative
  • He tries to make his every bit to be perfect
  • He glows with enthusiasm
  • He's very smart and inventive

Can such person write good program? Probably not. He can not write even average program, because of very small fact – the target of the programs we writing.

Whom we write for? For customers. The customers has no idea about what programming language we are using to write the program. He even do not know why we use this or other approach to solve his business problems. He do not care about algorithms, structures and abstract layers. He do not care about top and very efficient technologies, helps us to perform tasks better. He want to solve his problems and he want to do it quicker as possible with minimal effort from his side.

Now I want to ask you a question: "Do you (as programmers) interested with his (customer's) business processes and problems?" – the answer is NO! You're much more interested with how to make your work smaller and be able to expand it in the future upon customer's requests (not needs). To expand and enhance the program by yourselves – not by any other. You are the programmer!

Honestly, you are right, it is not your job to understand user – this is the job of business intelligence expert. However, how many companies hires this one? How many job boards advertises "BI experts"? – NONE (except those, how want him to sell their products). Everyone are looking for programmers, team leaders and architects. They want you to do it. They want you to understand customer's problem and you to solve it. Will you? Probably not, but you'll try to and this will take most of your work time. This why the programmers of today, probably good programmers, but, actually, they are not writing (and unable to write) good programs. It maybe very good from inside, but will be never good outside.

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4 תגובות

  1. Eran Kampf22 בנובמבר 2007 ב 0:30

    There's a difference between "designing a product" which requires customers input, UX input etc. to make it usable and to the needs of the users and "writing a product" which is the next step and requires product to be written with the right tools for the right job, scale, globalize, etc.

    So I have to disagree, good programmers can write good programs.

    I also disagree with a good programmer described as "He always in new technologies and applies them in his everyday work".
    A good experienced programmer knows how to apply the right tool for the right job, not the new tool for a job.

    Just see Twitter as an example of programmers using Ruby to build a website only to discover Ruby doesn't scale well..

  2. Eran Kampf22 בנובמבר 2007 ב 2:46

    Hi Tamir,
    I'm afraid I have to disagree.
    There's a difference between "writing a program" and a "designing a product" and while the stage of product design requires PMs and UX to understand customer needs and provide the best solution, the implementation stage requires good coding methodologies, the use of the right tools and technologies etc.

    Writing a good program means that it anwers requirements, correctly structured, scales, globalizeable, etc.

    However, the excellent programmer will also have the bussiness skills, UX skills and knowledge in multiple not necessarily technical areas that will help him understand requirements better and communicated with PM\UX\etc. better.

    I also have to disagree with defining a good programmer as "He always in new technologies and applies them in his everyday work".
    A good programmer knows how to apply the right tool\technology to the right problem and not get caught in in hypes etc.

    Just as a case study you can look a Twitter who used Ruby to develop their web site only to find out Ruby doesn't scale well…


  3. Asafs22 בנובמבר 2007 ב 8:29

    I think that the problem here is that what is called “good programming” is the aftereffect that this has on the customer. Although the customer doesn’t care about the bits and bytes of the source code, he does care about quick resolution of problems and future enhancements to the product. Writing the best code ever make take its toll in this since the source code is not always maintained by the same developer.

  4. Tamir Khason22 בנובמבר 2007 ב 9:09

    Eran, the problem is, that very small amount of companies, realizes "the right way". Even, if they are, they are not accomplish "customer oriented design" as very important stage.
    A lot of complanies some day comes to the stage, when they want programmers to continue to work with clients, wich completely wrong.